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'Unlawful' vote in rebel-run areas would breach Ukraine peace deal: PM

10 september 2015, 11:36
0

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk warned Wednesday that any attempt to hold "unlawful" elections in rebel-run areas in the country's east would constitute a breach of a February peace deal, AFP reports.

Yatsenyuk was speaking after talks with his Polish counterpart Ewa Kopacz in Warsaw, in the run-up to local elections being organised by pro-Moscow separatists in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions.

"It's hard for me to understand how you can go to the polls at Russian gunpoint. That's a sham," Yatsenyuk told reporters.

"Elections in all of Ukraine and in Ukraine's regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, as well as Crimea, should only take place in accordance with international standards and OSCE criteria. In other words, they need to be transparent and fair elections," he said.

Yatsenyuk said Ukraine had asked the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) -- which is monitoring a shaky peace deal between the government and the separatists -- whether it believed the conditions existed  for holding fair elections in the breakaway regions.

"Holding any unlawful elections in these areas would mean a complete and total breach of the Minsk agreements," he said. 

Under the agreements signed in the Belarussian capital in February, the separatist regions must conduct local elections by the end of the year "in accordance with Ukrainian legislation and the law of Ukraine".

The rebels, however, want to hold local elections on their own terms, which include barring all pro-Ukrainian candidates and holding the polls on days that that do not correspond to local elections planned in the rest of Ukraine on October 25.

October 18 has been set for the vote in Donetsk and November 1 for Lugansk, a move that has irritated Kiev and its Western allies.

Yatsenyuk drew a line between the conflict in eastern Ukraine, which has forced over a million people from their homes, and the hundreds of thousands of people fleeing conflicts in the Middle East, Asia and Africa to the 28-member European Union by land and sea. 

"Why do we understand you (EU members) like no one else? Because as a result of Russia's military aggression, 1.5 million people here (in Ukraine) were displaced from their homes," Yatsenyuk said. 

"And we have to give them shelter, a salary, a job. They have to survive the winter and eat something."


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